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Mental Health Awareness Month: What does a semicolon tattoo represent?

If you have seen someone with a semicolon tattoo, you may not be aware of the meaning behind the symbol. It’s a constant reminder that there is support, someone out there who understands and that their story has just started but it isn’t over.

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What semicolon stands for

The semicolon is a significant part of the mental health awareness movement and suicide prevention for many reasons. It, first of all, brings awareness and signifies that you aren’t alone.

According to the Washington Post, it symbolizes “that a sentence wasn’t over yet, neither was their life.” Psychology Today said that a punctuation mark like a semicolon as a tattoo is a symbol of a network of support.

The semicolon tattoo became a phenomenon without any purposeful intention. It started with an organization called, Project Semicolon.

Project Semicolon

Project Semicolon, according to their website, is dedicated to helping to “build better lives for people all around the world experiencing mental health.” They work to provide support, be relatable, and help you to be empowered to cope.

The Washington Post says Project Semicolon was started by Amy Bleuel in 2013 with the use of social media. She built a place where people struggling with mental illness could “draw a semicolon on their wrist and post a photo.” Since 2013, millions of photos of people with semicolons both permanent or temporary, have been shared all over the world.

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.”

—  Project Semicolon

Bleuel struggled herself with depression and her father died by suicide when she was 18, according to the Washington Post. She had three semicolon tattoos herself before she died at the age of 31.

Celebrities, including Selena Gomez, joined the movement. Gomez got a tattoo of a semicolon herself on her wrist with two stars from “13 Reasons Why” which she served as executive producer on the television series. Gomez has also been pretty open with her mental health journey through the years.

Project Semicolon hosts events with hundreds of chapters all over the world. They are also partnered with local tattoo shops around the world where you can get a tattoo of a semicolon. Project Semicolon provides support groups and resources for those who are interested. Project Semicolon raises money to help fight mental health stigma and provides hope to those who need it, according to Psychology Today.

Note: If you or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free support at 1-800-273-8255. Beginning July 16, 2022, U.S. residents can also be connected to the Lifeline by dialing 988. For more about risk factors and warning signs, visit the organization’s official website.